Is The World of The Occult Real?

Title: Is The World of the Occult Real?

Text: 2 Samuel 28:3-20

Time: October 25th, 2012


I’m continuing in a Halloween series for 2012, and today I’m dealing further with the world of the occult. What do I mean by the occult world? Simply, everything connected with the world of the spirit outside legitimate Christian activity.  But to be more specific, things like ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, séances, mind reading, ESP, levitation, astrology, black and white magic, witches, spirit mediums, table tipping, Satanism, crystal balls, haunted houses, poltergeists, parapsychology, spiritism, psychic surgery, water witching (dousing), demon possession, vampirism, trans-channeling, automatic writing – to name just a few topics. There are, of course, more themes I could mention in respect to occultism, but these few give you the idea. If we look through the short list I’ve outlined, I’m sure we’re all familiar with one or two of them, either we’ve heard or read about something, or we’ve personally experienced it before. The world of the occult is pretty big, because it covers so many things and so much territory.  I could mention Voodooism, the religion of Haiti, because of the occultism found in it, particularly spirit possession, evil curses, and zombies. Now what characterizes all occult activity is an attempt to communicate or gain power from the world of the spirit outside of the Bible or outside of legitimate Christian channels. For example, God speaks through his Word, the Bible, to reveal his will to Christians. He also speaks through the Holy Spirit, through the Christian church, and other legitimate biblical means. But occultism attempts to by-pass the Bible and Christianity in order to deal directly with the world of the spirit. The truth is, there is a spirit world, and spirits inhabit it – but not everything spiritual is good and right. From the Bible, we know that God and righteous angels exist in the spirit world, but they aren’t the only inhabitants of the world of the spirit. The devil and demons are also spirits who exist in this non-material world. Of course, departed souls of the dead live in the spiritual world, either in heaven or hell. So we see there are a number of living entities that exist in the world of the spirit. Now occult practices attempt to deal with the spirit world directly without going through means and methods approved by God in the Bible. But this is dangerous because there is no telling who or what one is dealing with in the world of the occult. Unfortunately, if someone isn’t communicating with God in prayer or the Holy Spirit, it’s probably the devil or demons with whom one is dealing. The bottom line is, the occult puts people in touch with the devil, either intentionally or unintentionally. That’s why as Christians we must warn people about the dangers of the occult, and also, keep ourselves as far away from it as possible. Let me explain further from a famous passage in the Old Testament dealing with the occult – 1 Samuel 28, Saul and the witch of Endor.


First, God has expressly forbidden any occult activity by believers. 1 Samuel 28:3-10, “Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spirits from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.’ ‘There is one in Endor,’ they said. So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. ‘Consult a spirit for me,’ he said, ‘and bring up for me the one I name.’ But the woman said to him, ‘Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?’ Saul swore to her by the Lord, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.’” Here we learn King Saul of Israel expelled all the spirit mediums from the land, which is exactly what God commanded him to do. But he must have missed one, because here is a woman who is also a spirit medium in the land and talking to the king. But the point I’d like to make here is that we see God has forbidden his people from dealing with occult spirit mediums and any kind of communication with the spirit world that circumvents God – something we see Saul doing in direct disobedience to God, and even his own command! In an earlier biblical passage we read, “Do not allow a sorceress to live,” Exodus 22:18. So in God’s eyes, it is strongly forbidden for anyone to communicate or even attempt to speak with the spirit world directly, other than to God through prayer. That’s why he commanded King Saul to remove all occult practitioners from the land of Israel, in order to prevent anyone from even being tempted to circumvent his will in this respect. Now why is God so against people talking to spirits, or gaining power from the world of the spirit? Because unless we go through godly channels, unless we deal with the world of spirit in a holy and approved way, it can be dangerous, even deadly. The devil and demons are deadly, dangerous and destructive spirits. We might think we could traffic with them successfully, but God doesn’t think so, and forbids us to even try. The information we might receive is unreliable, filled with half-truths at best, or worse, outright lies. The power me might gain comes with a price, because the devil and demons don’t do anything out of favor. They have an agenda – and it’s evil. That’s why we need to avoid all forms of occult activity. God forbids it for a good reason. He knows things we don’t know. Let’s simply trust the Lord in this and stay clear away from any occult involvement.


Second, there’s no telling what might happen if one dabbles in the world of the occult. 1 Samuel 28:11-14, “Then the woman asked, ‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’ ‘Bring up Samuel,’ he said. When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, ‘Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!’ The king said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. What do you see?’ The woman said, ‘I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.’ ‘What does he look like?’ he asked.’ ‘An old man wearing a robe is coming up,’ she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.” So let’s recap the scene. The woman, the spirit medium, has agreed to bring up the departed spirit of the old prophet Samuel. In the old King James Version of the Bible it describes her as “a woman with a familiar spirit,” which perfectly describes the typical mode of operation of a medium, past and present. You’ll hear of famous mediums or psychics as they are sometimes called, for example, John Edwards or James Van Praagh, and they’ll always claim to bridge the gap between the spirit world and earth – hence, a medium, or go-between. That’s exactly what the woman or witch of Endor was attempting to do. Now notice there is mention of a “familiar spirit,” and again, this is also something that contemporary psychic mediums talk about. It’s a spirit entity that helps make the connection between the living and the dead. Often psychic mediums will deal with a “familiar spirit” to contact the departed soul and bring him or her into contact with the them. Evidently that’s what the woman of Endor was using because she was shocked to see Samuel appear in her mental vision. Why was she so shocked? Wasn’t it Samuel she was attempting to reach? Yes, but she was counting on her “familiar spirit” or spirit helper to deal with her, not Samuel directly. She was shocked to find that the old prophet was really there with a message for Saul. Herein is the problem with dealing directly with the spirit world – you never know what you’re going to get. This psychic medium, the woman at Endor, was used to dealing with a “familiar spirit.” Who or what was this spirit? Probably a demon spirit. But in this case, she didn’t find her usual spirit contact; she encountered the person directly. Now that’s an exception, actually. God usually doesn’t permit departed souls to contact the living, as we see from the explanation in Luke 16:26, “And besides, all this, between us and you (between the living and the dead) a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” God doesn’t permit communication by the living with the dead.


So then what’s taking place in the spirit medium’s parlor when customers come and pay to speak with their departed loved ones? Well, one thing we know is that it isn’t really their departed loved ones with whom they are speaking. God forbids that, and even doesn’t allow for it. Only in extremely rare cases, like the case we read about in 1 Samuel 28 does God allow it. The psychic medium, the so-called witch of Endor, was shocked when it happened, because it usually doesn’t happen. She was usually in contact with a so-called familiar spirit, or spirit guide, or as we can suppose, a demon. This familiar spirit handled all the communications between the medium and the supposed departed soul. But what was really taking place, nine times out of ten, was that the spirit guide was deceiving the medium or the customer, probably both, into thinking that communication really was with the departed soul, when in fact they were actually speaking with a demonic or deceiving spirit. After all, evil spirits have access to information about people, who they are, what they look like, knowledge of facts about their life, and so forth. All it would take for a demon spirit to fool someone is repeat a few convincing facts about a person’s life, convince the customer they are the real thing, and then proceed with the deceptive communication. Whether the psychic mediums are in on the deception isn’t always clear. Probably some are, probably some aren’t. But the so-called familiar spirit is the entity that sets up the whole scenery and works the con game to a convincing degree. But in the case of Samuel, the medium was shocked. Why? Because the séance didn’t go as usual. She didn’t deal with the familiar spirit, but instead came face to face with the real prophet Samuel. Now some scholars debate whether this appearance was the real prophet Samuel, but I don’t think we can question that is was, because the Bible actually says it was. So unless we contradict the text of the passage itself, we’d better be prepared to admit that in this rare case, God evidently let the real departed soul appear and speak. Highly unusual. But the point is that in dealing directly with the world of the spirit you never know what you are going to get – it could be the real person communicating, as in this instant, but most of the time it’s probably going to be a demonic imposter, faking it. You just can’t rely on anything that’s communicated by this means. That’s why God forbids obtaining information this way. We need to obey God and trust him that this isn’t the right way to obtain knowledge. It’s too risky. It puts us in business with the devil and demons, most likely. And that’s not what we want to do. That’s not where we want to be. Once we open the door to the world of the occult, there’s no telling what might come out!


Third, almost always what ends up happening is bad news. 1 Samuel 28:15-20, “Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’ ‘I am in great distress,’ Saul said. ‘The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either in prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.’ Samuel said, ‘Why do you consult me now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors – to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.’ Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words, His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night.” Here’s the third important point – and another reason why we are forbidden in dealing with the world of the occult – it usually ends badly! Now in this case, which isn’t the typical situation, the medium actually got through to the real departed soul. But the end result wasn’t good. And that’s exactly what happens in séances and in occult activity today – it usually doesn’t end very well. Something bad usually comes as a result. Take for example the different kinds of occult activity I listed already — ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, séances, mind reading, ESP, levitation, astrology, black and white magic, witches, spirit mediums, table tipping, Satanism, crystal balls, haunted houses, poltergeists, parapsychology, spiritism, psychic surgery, water witching (dousing) and demon possession. If we pursue these kinds of activities there will always be an element of fear, at best; and at worse, we are put into some kind of bondage either through an unhealthy and harmful interest in these forbidden practices, or we open ourselves up for outright possession by demon spirits. If you research the subject of demon possession you’ll find that almost all genuine cases started with some kind of occult involvement. In the movie The Exorcist, based on a true story by the way, the child that was possessed by the devil was initially drawn into occult involvement by none other than a ouija board. And that’s typical; it’s almost a rule. Occult involvement greatly increases the risk of demonic possession. Who in their right mind would put themselves at such risk?


Some people get drawn into the world of the occult by the promise of communication with a departed loved one, but as I’ve tried to demonstrate, a real connection with a lost loved one is rare. It’s usually not the person one might think it is, but instead it’s usually a deceptive spirit impersonating someone else. Chances are, any communication or information received will be a lie. Things supposedly said or communicated can be potentially damaging psychologically and spiritually, not to mention emotionally. Why would anyone in their right mind submit themselves to such psychological or spiritual risk? Sadly, it’s usually pretty desperate people. But if they would only turn to God in prayer, or turn to God’s Word the Bible, they’d find true help for whatever is troubling them. Others are draw to the occult world by the promise of power. Some want control or an advantage, so they think the spirit world can give it to them. But any power they might gain from trafficking with demon spirits comes with a price. We’ve all heard of people making pacts with the devil. Maybe a person wants to succeed in their career, and so they seek advantages or power from the spirit world. Yes, they might gain power, control or advantage in some area as the result, but they have probably had to pay some kind of price, because like I said before the demon spirits are not generous or friendly usually; if they give something, there is usually a very deliberate reason for doing so – usually for a price. Any kind of pact or agreement made for services of the spirit world usually turn out bad in the end; most definitely, always, turn out badly for the person. Again, this is why God forbids us to traffic in the world of the occult. Yes, there is knowledge to be gained in the world of the occult; but it isn’t good knowledge. Nothing good can come of it. Yes, there is power to be had by participating in the occult world; but it isn’t good power, and it always comes with a price. That price is not worth paying. If people only knew all the dangers of the world of the occult there wouldn’t be hardly any participants. But most people are vastly ignorant of the harmful effects of dabbling in the occult. Now it isn’t necessary to learn the hard way; it isn’t necessary for us to learn from many mistakes. Why should we even experiment in the occult? If we know that it’s dangerous, if we know that it will turn out bad, why even start into it? For you who haven’t gotten involved with the occult, don’t. Don’t do damage to yourself. Keep yourself from harm’s way. For you who have gotten involved, get out, quickly, before it’s too late. Why suffer anything? Why put yourself in danger any longer. Get out while you still can get out, and warn others to stay clear of it.


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